As an architect, scenographer and designer with a solidly established reputation, Bruno Moinard stands out for his sense of elegance and the purity of his conceptions imagined to the finest detail. Driven by a strong artistic dimension that has also made him a painter, his creativity speaks directly to his interlocutors, right from their very first encounter through to his drawings. In jet-black and gold, they begin already to sketch out his vision of the future. A portrait of a man who gives life to his taste for purity, culture and what will endure beyond the trends of the day.
Is it possible to combine talent, obsession for perfection and mastery of a work, the dimension of creator and demanding artist with the values of simplicity, modesty and human warmth? Without doubt, since Bruno Moinard shows himself as such to one and all. Everyone seems to appreciate him as much for his professional rigor as for his massive reserves of empathy. At the inauguration of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs bookshop in Paris in December 2004 which he had designed, one of this childhood friends approached him enthusiastically and loudly proclaimed: “It was always Bruno’s drawings that were displayed in the classroom, because they really were the most beautiful!” It was an intimate memory that allows one to take stock and view the journey accomplished since then.
The Ecart International years
After graduating from the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et des Métiers d'Art and a first experience in Roanne with Hubert Cormier for the famous Troisgros restaurant, it was his talent as a designer that allowed Bruno Moinard to become part of the team of Andrée Putman and Jean-François Bodin in 1979, within the framework of Ecart and Ecart International. This adventure lasting fifteen years led to his becoming the main collaborator of Andrée Putman and participating in one of his most memorable projects, that of the mythical Concorde airplane. “We succeeded in creating an extremely light design, a sort of very hi-tech double skin that offered a new silhouette to the interior of the plane while still preserving the existing one. It was almost a cosmetic procedure…” he remembers with emotion. During this period, he worked on store concepts (Thierry Mugler, Azzédine Alaïa, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld), hotels (Morgan's in New York, Le Lac in Tokyo) restaurants (Café Français MOMA in New York, Opium in Tokyo, Orchid in Kobe), offices (Éditions du Regard, Arche de la Défense, etc.), foundations, museums, exhibitions and many private residences (K. Lagerfeld, Jean-Paul Goude, Pierre Boulez, Peggy Roche, Françoise Sagan). In partnership with Philippe Starck, he would even redesign the Élysée apartment for President François Mitterrand.
From 1985 to 1995, he was responsible for Ecart design studio, comprising a team of fifteen people. But Bruno Moinard wished to found his own agency, which he did in 1995 under the name of 4BI. “I wanted to leave the nest that year in order to express my creativity under my own name, he explains. After long years of experience on projects of great diversity, he was now pursuing his own trajectory with his natural maturity and the force of his convictions.
Independence with the creation of 4BI
A certain human sensitivity is at the heart of the design studio’s name, 4BI. Many wonder about the meaning of these three enigmatic signs. However, its simplicity reflects the image of the designer: 4 for his four children, B for Bruno and I for Isabelle, his wife. Family is a base, a solid foundation that endures and thrives over time. In 1995, the architect therefore entered his professional “second life” that began with the renovation of Galerie Lahumière, in a town house on Rue du Parc Royal in Paris. Its success immediately attracted the attention of the Musée Rodin, which in 1996 entrusted him with the scenography of the exhibition Les marbres de Rodin de la Collection Thyssen as well as that of the following year, Vers l'âge d'Airain. Rodin en Belgique. The distinctive characteristics are fully expressed: his great mastery of light and shadow, his sense of contrasts and inversions, his classicism not without audacity, his creativity that pricks curiosity and invites the visitor on a voyage of discovery full of emotions.
His talent and his generosity would also charm Fondation Cartier, which, the same year, would ask him to stage the exhibitions By Night and Comme un Oiseau. “This work signified the starting point of a long collaboration with Cartier, in France and all around the world, which continues to this day and is projected into the future” he says.
A French cultural heritage and a vision of purity
The famous maison of jewelry and horology contacted him for the architectural concept and the scenography to launch its Santos-Dumont watch at the Trocadéro in Paris. The collaboration grew and extended internationally with scenographies for Cartier Collection Paris Nouvelle Vague sales spaces in Europe, the United States, and above all in Asia (Tokyo, Taipei, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore and Bangkok). This work, involving the adaption of a concept to each city in the world, founded on an equilibrium between classicism and modern materials, would be the prelude to the immense project that the architect was entrusted with shortly after in 2002. This was an important year in his career since he elaborated the new concept for the Maison Cartier boutiques all around the world, representing 340 showcases to be completed with the same éclat. The magic pens of Bruno Moinard would reveal the almost jewel-like sketches drawn cleanly in front of his illustrious commissioner. The first sites to be rejuvenated and embellished were Tokyo, Kobe and Tainan. The Paris boutique on 154 Avenue des Champs-Élysées would represent all the elegance and savoir-faire of the architect, and beyond that, a certain French culture admired by the whole world.
His vision and ability to reconcile and sublimate tradition and modernity attracted the attention of another actor in the world of luxury. In 2002, Monsieur François Pinault entrusted him with the interior renovation of Château Latour winery, near Pauillac in Bordeaux, which the director had bought in 1993, returning to France the famous vineyards that had been held in English hands for thirty years. “It had been suggested that I create an abbey. I imagined a sleek enclosure, a little like a fortress, with four small horizontal windows, with the volume inside in all its simplicity. It is not an abbey, but rather a cathedral that suggests both majesty and modesty, in a soothing atmosphere thanks to a play of shadow and light, the delicate fragrance of wooden barrels and the “nectar of the gods”, the presence of multiple small lights pulsating like fireflies in this grand space”, the architect explains joyfully, captivated by the pure lines and precise details.
French culture and elegance would become more and more associated with the reputation of the architect-scenographer who excels in the art of atmosphere. In the course of the following fifteen years, his creations have multiplied, amplified and diversified, in France and increasingly internationally (Roland Garros Tennismuseum, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Hermès, Galeries Lafayette, Hôtel du Marc Veuve Clicquot Reims, Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Kiora restaurant Tokyo, Spink Auction house London, The Grill at the Dorchester, Hotel Four Seasons, Hangzhou China, Wison Shanghai, Hotel Eden Rome, etc.). Fascinated by Japan and the respect shown to masters of art and outstanding savoir-faire, the architect-scenographer was pleased to find there his own profound sense of refinement and simplicity combined with perfectionism down to the smallest detail. China also opened its doors to him with two boutique hotels in Chengdu completed in 2015.
The inspirations of the architect, furniture designer and painter
Bruno has long designed furniture for his own projects. This naturally led him to launching his own first collection of furniture by creating Galerie Bruno Moinard Editions in 2014 on 31 Rue Jacob, at the heart of Saint-Germain des Prés in Paris. A furniture editions gallery, the space is intended to be experimental and far removed from the industrial and the big box stores. Rather, he prefers made-to-measure, limited editions and master craftsmanship, reflecting the world of haute couture. Here, sophistication and precious materials rhyme with rarity, fine patina, and cultural and artistic heritage.
A publishing house, Editions de La Martinière, has also taken a great interest in this prolific and multi-talented designer. Their collaboration would lead to two works, L'architecte Promeneur (August 2010) and Du Trait à la Lumière (October 2015). These two publications intertwine career and achievements, as well as sketches, watercolors and gouaches.
We cannot bring to mind Bruno Moinard without considering his soul of a painter and sketch artist that inspires him daily, specifically in his work, with his sketches constituting a universal multicultural language to explain his vision and ideas to his clients. As he marvels at Asia, it is possible to detect a strong relationship with the “Empire of Signs”, according to the expression of Roland Barthes, founded on the symbolic, the ritual and, equally, on the sacred and eternal. There is indeed something of a Japanese soul with this French architect, in the sharpness of the calligraphic stroke of his designs, his taste for starkness and purity of lines, but always with this search for “the spirit” breathing within each object and place, in order to reveal the discreet and profound beauty, in perfect accord with the beauty of the passing time. Bruno Moinard simultaneously embodies the rigor of the samurai, the cult of stringency and the perfection of the craftsman’s work (in the Japanese sense of the mastery of art) but also a fascination for light, its intensity and vibrancy, inspired by his French roots and the region of his childhood. Born in Dieppe in 1956, he grew up immediately in front of the infinite space of a mysterious sea shrouded in morning mist. Its delicate grays and ever-changing reflections intensified the luminosity, echoing the brilliant whiteness of the chalk cliffs made famous by the Aiguille Creuse and Arsène Lupin. This Romanesque atmosphere restoring the human soul charmed the architect who has long dedicated himself to one of his other passions, that of painting. Here, he swaps his fountain pen for paintbrushes, his notebook for pristine canvases, in order to express other visions of the world between heaven and earth, both fleeting and timeless.